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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ancient Nubia: Freedom and Reconquest

Freedom and Reconquest
Egyptian control of ancient Nubia did not last long. A powerful kingdom began to grow in Upper Nubia. This kingdom soon gained the strength to drive the Egyptians out of Nubia.

The ancient Egyptians called the new kingdom Kush. Modern archaeologists call the people of this kingdom the Kerma culture. Its center was near the third cataract, where the modern town of Kerma, Sudan, is today.

By 1650 B.C. the people of Nubia had regained their independence, or complete freedom, from Egypt. Free from Egyptian rule, the Kerma culture grew. The ancient town of Kerma became a main stopping point for both river and overland trade. Goods such as gold, salt, spices, elephants, and rhinoceros horns moved through Kerma to markets all over Africa and across the Red Sea. This trade brought great wealth to the people of Kerma.

The ancient burial grounds of the Kerma kings provide evidence of their wealth. To bury a king, the people of Kerma dug a large round pit. They then placed a gold-covered wooden funeral bed at the bottom. They dressed the king in his finest clothes and laid him on the funeral bed.

Around him they placed his weapons, his treasures of gold and ivory, and his jewelry.
Then they covered the pit with a mound of earth and outlined the mound with skulls of cattle.

During Kerma's days of prosperity, its kings gained power as well as wealth. Over time they were able to gain control of much of northern Sudan and even some parts of southern Egypt.
The same period was not as good for the Egyptians. At this time the Hyksos held control of much of Egypt. Kerma's leader decided that it would be best to become an ally, or supporter, of the Hyksos. After all, the Hyksos controlled most of the land to the north of Nubia. The Kerma king did not know that the Egyptians would soon regain the land. The victorious Egyptians forced the Hyksos out of their country and into southwestern Asia. Then the Egyptians turned south and destroyed Kush's capital city of Kerma. They took this action to punish the people of Kerma for helping the Hyksos.

Following their military successes, the Egyptians claimed control of much of Nubia. This time Egypt's control of Nubia reached past the fourth cataract. As a show of strength, the Egyptians built cities and temples all over Nubia.

Egypt's rule over Nubia lasted for about 550 years. During that time the Egyptian pharaoh created a special position called the King's Son of Kush. This person was responsible for the day-to-day governing of Nubian lands and for collecting taxes.

Under Egyptian rule, the people of Nubia were encouraged to become like Egyptians. Many Nubians adopted Egyptian religious beliefs, writing, customs, and ways of dress.

How did the decision to side with the Hyksos affect the people of Kerma?


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